A RAILWAY passenger has described his shock at learning two people struck by the train on which he was travelling were his father and brother.
Offshore worker Gary Kolarczyk, 60, was travelling to meet the pair when the near-tragedy happened near Rannoch Station on the Mallaig to Glasgow service.
His father Gerhard, 87, and 52-year-old brother Paul, on an annual holiday to Scotland from Germany to visit relatives, were walking along the West Highland railway line on their way to the station after a fishing trip.
Mr Kolarczyk and his 53-year-old wife Alison, from Blairgowrie in Perthshire, had arranged to pick them up from the station.
But when the train came to a sudden halt just a couple of miles south of the station, he described how they both had a “funny feeling” and feared something terrible had happened.
He said: “We felt the train brake suddenly and we heard the horn going, then it just came to a stop. A couple of minutes later a message came over the Tannoy, saying we had hit some sheep.
“We just looked at each other and knew there was something else. We hadn’t seen any sheep for miles and miles and it is such a remote place.”
The couple, who had been sitting in the last carriage of the train, asked the driver what had happened after a call was put out asking for medical help.
Mr Kolarczyk said: “We saw someone put on surgical gloves and we knew then that it wasn’t sheep. They wouldn’t let anyone off the train. I was just numb. I was thinking of the worst-case scenario.”
He was eventually allowed to leave the train and his worst fear was confirmed when he realised it had hit his father and brother.
He got his father – who had suffered cuts and bruises, had bumped his head and was in shock – on board the train.
The 87-year-old had dropped down into a 5ft-deep drain at the side of the track after Paul had shouted from behind that a train was coming.
Paul suffered serious leg injuries, and it is thought the train snagged his rucksack and flung him from the track.
Mr Kolarczyk said his father was “just dazed”, adding: “I don’t think he realised just how serious it all was.”
He travelled with his father by air ambulance to Fort William’s Belford Hospital, where he was checked over and allowed to go home that night.
A rescue helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth was sent to airlift his brother to Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, where he remains in a serious condition and is sedated.
Mr Kolarczyk said he had feared his brother might lose his right leg, but his condition was now improving.
He added: “Doctors said he has got a bit of circulation back. We have been really worried.”
He said the accident had left everyone in the family stunned, adding: “It’s just so ironic that we were on the train that hit them.
“We’re looking at the bright side, though. They could have been killed. It could have been so much worse.”